Mercedes not uncatchable - Boullier
Eric Boullier insists he has not been deterred by the pursuit of Mercedes despite seeing it utterly dominate at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The gap of 24 seconds between race-winner Lewis Hamilton and third-placed Sergio Perez was quite staggering given that only 10 laps ran after the safety car came in. Despite seeing just how far ahead Mercedes was in Bahrain, racing director Boullier is convinced the gap will not be impossible to bridge, though he also believes it may take longer than first expected.
"I believe if you look at the performance graph from Jenson we were just about to finish in front of the Force India," Boullier said when asked by ESPN if he agreed with Button's statement McLaren is now the second fastest team behind Mercedes. "So I agree with this, we could be the second-fastest team after Mercedes, the best of the rest. But this is very, very tight with everybody. As far as I am concerned we are working very aggressive to develop to catch up with them [Merc]. I don't know if we will catch up with them by the European races but we hope to do so as soon as possible."
Boullier is not daunted by the massive job McLaren faces to get back to the front of the pack.
"I think it is [realistic] to be honest. It is true the gap is huge now, but I think a one-second gap is catchable. I know different areas we can work on and improve, so it is definitely catchable. Obviously last year was a bit of a trauma here. Everybody is more than eager to get back to where McLaren should be. To do that we obviously have to do it not in a rush or in a panic mode, but more of a rational mode.
"This is the perfect occasion to look at ourselves and make sure we can fine-tune our aggression to bring us back to where we should be. We will [get back] because there is a lot of good work here."
He also believes the Sakhir circuit played into the hands of Mercedes and that McLaren already knows where it will perform well this season.
"I'm not sure if it is a 1.7s advantage to be honest. Every track we have will favour one machine over the others. The aim is to close the gap by obtaining more downforce and improving performance generally on the car. I think it is definitely catchable
"Monaco is a case in point for example. It is a high-downforce one but good for driveable car and well-balanced car. Then there is a low-downforce track like Monza which would be a different story. I think every track can change the pecking order but the tendency [for us] would be to change the balance. A low-downforce track would help us at the current time."